The Abe administration plans to ease Japan's self-imposed restrictions on weapons exports by not ruling out delivery to nations involved in an international conflict, a major policy shift in the nation's long-held "three principles" that ban such action, a government source said.

Critics warn the change could undermine Japan's pacifist stance since World War II and pave the way for Japanese-made weapons and technology to be used in global conflicts.

Under new rules governing arms exports, the administration is not expected to ban exports to countries that are or may be involved in international conflicts, apparently out of consideration for the United States, Japan's top ally, and Israel, which also has close ties with the U.S., the source said.